‘We live in the townships until we make money, then we leave’

South Africans say that they have good reasons to move out of the townships when they become financially successful. Picture: RDNE Stock project/Pexels

South Africans say that they have good reasons to move out of the townships when they become financially successful. Picture: RDNE Stock project/Pexels

Published Jul 12, 2023


The property market is constantly moving; when people living in middle income areas can afford more expensive homes, they move to more affluent suburbs, and are then replaced by people moving from lower income areas.

It is a constant recycling of homes, a constant search for something better.

The bad news for South Africa’s townships though, is that these upwardly mobile residents take their money with them when they go, and do not necessarily have anyone to take their place.

Kasi Hustlers, a Facebook page that aims to educate, inform, and empower Kasi small business owners, became a hive of commentary after putting up a post saying that once township residents succeed financially, they move out to the suburbs,

“And this is a bad news for the township economy as they will be moving out with their money and investing it somewhere else.”

The post states that there was once a couple in Tembisa who, after winning a R5 million jackpot, immediately relocated to Midrand.

Commenting further, the author adds: “They have valid reasons why they choose to move out of the township. For some, it is because of crime, poor infrastructure, lack of service delivery, etc. For others, it might be because of jealous neighbours who don't want to see them progressing in life.”

Other South Africans agree, saying that township life is toxic.

“If you get a chance to move out of that environment with your family, do so without thinking twice,” writes Itu Zakes Bopape.

“You'll realise how a private life can keep your mind clear and focused on achieving your goals. However it has to be a financially calculated move.”

The moment you find financial stability, your township becomes your biggest enemy, states Thato Mpoli.

Siyabonga Shabangu believes that moving out of the township is the “best decision” that one can make.

“Kasi people will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

Commentators also say that people move due to crime and witchcraft.

“Townships are full of toxic and jealous people – once you become successful you get killed or bao loya, so hao popa don't even think twice, just move,” states Mosa Sepanya.

Township residents who shared their thoughts say that once a person makes money, they either become victims of crime or are seen as a threat by jealous neighbours.

There is, however, genuine concern that this habit is not helping township economies. Victor Scott writes that 90% of the money earned by workers living in the township leaves the township. For small businesses, 95% of profits also leave.

“Even Somalian and Pakistani [business owners] repatriate the profits back to the homeland, whilst Shoprite repatriates the profits back to Stellenbosch. Little money circulates, or remains within the township to be reinvested and develop the township, and create jobs and pride. That must change.”